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Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk
Russell Kirk (1918-1994) was the author of some thirty-two books, hundreds of periodical essays, and many short stories. Both Time and Newsweek have described him as one of America’s leading thinkers, and The New York Times acknowledged the scale of his influence when in 1998 it wrote that Dr. Kirk’s 1953 book The Conservative Mind “gave American conservatives an identity and a genealogy and catalyzed the postwar movement.” Dr. Kirk's other books include The Roots of American Order, Prospects for Conservatives, Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered, The Sword of Imagination, and Enemies of the Permanent Things.

The principal difficulty of mankind today is the decay of the moral imagination in our civilization... In the spring of 1989, videographer Ken Martinek and I made the trip to Piety Hill to interview Russell about the moral imagination (as first conceived by Edmund Burke...
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At best, what the typical college has offered its students, in recent decades, has been defecated rationality. By that term I mean a narrow rationalism or logicalism, purged of theology, moral philosophy, symbol and allegory, tradition, reverence, and the wisdom of our ancestors. This defecated rationality is...
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The university is not a center for the display of adolescent tempers, nor yet a fulcrum for turning society upside down. It is simply this: a place for the cultivation of right reason and moral imagination... Already...
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A reformed history must be imaginative and humane; like poetry, like the great novel, it must be personal rather than abstract, ethical rather than ideological. Like the poet, the historian must understand that devotion to truth is not identical with the cult of facts...
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Edmund Burke’s principle of order is an anticipatory refutation of utilitarianism, positivism, and pragmatism, an affirmation of that reverential view of society which may be traced through Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, the Roman jurisconsults, the Schoolmen, Richard Hooker, and lesser thinkers. It is this; but it is more...

Abraham Lincoln never was a doctrinaire; he rose from very low estate to very high estate, and he knew the savagery which lies so close beneath the skin of man, and he knew that most men are good only out of obedience to routine and convention...
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Edmund Burke transcends party struggles and the questions of his hour; and, though suspicious from first to last of abstract doctrine and theoretic dogma, he will endure not for what he did, but for what he perceived... Burke and the Nature of Politics:...
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George Gissing found himself more intensely conservative than the Tory politicians of his time, a lover of old ways and old towns, a champion of the countryside, a man who distrusted innovation and spoke for the permanent things... The Collected Letters of George...
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The peculiar conditions of our time and our society demand now, more than ever before, a reinvigoration of truly liberal learning. This hour is favorable to the restoration or establishment of a college with principle... A few years...

The American and French Revolutions provide a contrast between principle and ideology; between prudence and fanaticism; between prescriptive rights and extravagant ambitions; between historical wisdom and utopianism; between free government and democratic despotism... A little book forgotten...

Abraham Lincoln was a conservative statesman on the intellectual model of Cicero. In his dignity there was no hubris; much, he knew, must be left to Providence... The Roman Republic was at the back of the minds of...
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Practical politics, Edmund Burke knew, is the art of the possible. We cannot alter singlehandedly the climate of opinion, or the institutions of our day, by a haughty adherence to inflexible and abstract doctrines... The Political Reason of
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Half a millennium ago, a Genoese navigator with three caravels and Spanish crews groped his way among the islands of the Caribbean. Thus commenced European settlement of the western hemisphere and the coming of Christianity and western civilization...
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American businessmen are inhumane. I do not mean that they are inhuman; they are all too human. I do not mean that they are insufficiently humanitarian. I mean that American businessmen, like most other Americans, are deficient...